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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — We have the first reported victim (?) of the amnesty clause of the new collective bargaining agreement.
The Spurs have decided to use it on swingman Richard Jefferson and the three years and $30 million remaining on his contract, per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. This means teams with cap space will have a chance to bid on Jefferson before he would become a free agent.
This also means the Spurs will need a starting small forward and will have to enter the free agent market to find one. Rookie Kawhi Leonard will surely have an opportunity to compete for the job. But if the Spurs have their designs on a championship, they’ll need a veteran (like Caron Butler or Josh Howard) to man the position in this abbreviated season.
The move to amnesty Jefferson will put the Spurs under the luxury tax threshold and allow them to use the entire mid-level exception to attract Jefferson’s replacement.
Speaking of Butler, Caron will still take his visit to New Jersey this evening, despite being very impressed by the San Antonio Spurs during his visit there Monday and Tuesday, and despite the Spurs now being able to offer Butler a full mid-level.
Butler is planning to make a decision in the next day about where he wants to play, according to a source, with the Spurs and Bulls at the top of his list. He visited Chicago on Monday, meeting with team president John Paxson and general manager Gar Forman. Butler has committed to playing two guard if he signs with the Bulls, which would allow Chicago to keep Luol Deng at small forward. Butler would remain a small forward with the Spurs, Nets or Clippers, the other teams he has visited or is visiting. But Butler also hit it off with Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich.
The Clippers and Nets can offer more than the mid-level exception. New Jersey would likely slide Butler into the $7 million slot it is currently paying forward Travis Outlaw, a prime amnesty candidate himself. The Clippers are under the cap and could give Butler a big deal, but Los Angeles is hip-deep in the Chris Paul trade talks at the moment, along with trying to get restricted free agent center DeAndre Jordan signed to a long-term deal. In addition, a source said that the Clippers prefer free agent forward Tayshaun Price over Butler.
TNT analyst David Aldridge contributed to this report